Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Estonian Pink Houses

When sorting out photos of Estonia, I came across this beautiful pink house with the guards in front. Is it the Stenbock House or not? Actually, the two mirror each other: both are pink baroque-style buildings with the Estonian Coat of Arms on the portal. And both are state buildings.

Below: The Office and Residence of the President of Estonia in Kadriorg was designed by architect Alar Kotli  for President Konstantin Päts in 1938, in Kadriorg, near the huge Palace. It also houses a wonderful art collection - but unless you are a guest of the president, you won't be able to see it!

"Designing the new Kadriorg Palace, Alar Kotli faced a complicated task requiring great discretion. He located the building on the same axis with the old Kadriorg Palace. The new building was not to infringe the integrity of the gorgeous ethereal ensemble of baroque architecture. Therefore, the back of the administrative building facing the old palace is serene and fairly modest, compared to the abundantly decorated facade. The garden connecting the two palaces was completely re-landscaped. As far as our brief summers allow it, the garden was and still is used for ceremonial purposes. In early summer, the President receives the best school and university graduates there. In summertime, the garden is open to visitors." 

Below: The Estonian Parliament Building on the Toompea Hill, built well over a century earlier in 1792. Although tt has changed hands many times it was always known as the Stenbock  House, in honour of Count Jakob Stenbock, who financed its construction. 

"Since 1828, after the death of Count Stenbock, the ensemble of early classicist buildings that is still called the Stenbock House today, belonged to Paul von Benckendorff, the chief of rural police court. For a long time the building was used by the knighthood: since 1855 the building sheltered the Toomkooli Boarding School and was sold to the Knighthood of Estonia in 1873. In 1891 the building was transferred to the ownership of the Administration of the Guberniya of Estonia that, 100 years after the completion of construction, first started using the building as a courthouse." Read the complete story here.

Stenbock House on Rahukohtu Street,
Photo by Samuli Lintula 
The Republic of Estonia undertook its current restoration in 1996; it was inaugurated in 2000 and houses the government session hall and executive offices.

Restored Assembly Hall/ Riigkogu saal. 
Photo: Steve Jurvetson

"The biggest room of the house initially designed as a court hall is located in the western wing on the second floor of the main building. Now the Government of the Republic holds its session here every Thursday by means of the electronic session system. This is the only room in the building where the dogtooth cornice edging the vaulted mirror ceiling has been restored. The three modernised chandeliers in the room are original designs by Peeter Tambu, interior designer of the house."  LINK.

About the Estonian Parliament
"The contemporary Estonian government follows the principles of separation of power and its people elect a 101-member parliament every four years. 

Only Estonian citizens may participate in parliamentary elections. The Parliament chooses a president, who can be in office for a five year period for a maximum of two terms. The President is the Supreme Commander of the National Defence of Estonia."

"A party must gather 5% of the votes in order to become part of the Parliament. As a rule, the President asks the party leader who has collected the most votes to form the new government. The representational model based on party politics has strengthened over the last decade. 

In the years shortly following the restoration of independence, there were dozens of parties to represent a population of only 1.4 million; at present 6-7 parties have remained. The local authorities have developed in the same direction. All permanent residents of voting age (18) may participate in local government elections". Read more from the Eesti Instituut.


  1. I think the first photo of a pink house is much prettier than the second one. It is bigger and the color pink is much seen on it. Glad to be read this post. Very entertaining!

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